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The “crown jewel” of the Interfaith Shelter Network of San Diego is the Rotational Shelter Program. This is a seasonal emergency shelter program that takes in men, women and families with children.

The Network involves over 120 congregations of all denominations county-wide in a Rotational Shelter program. About 70 of the congregations host the program in their facilities for two or four weeks a year and the remainder serve in a valuable support role, providing volunteers for meals and overnight hosting, transportation and donations.

Through neighborhood congregations linking with others, people are sheltered where there are no shelters and receive the understanding and support of congregations when previously all they knew was fear and uncertainty. Congregations benefit by getting to know homeless individuals personally and the mutual sharing of stories is beneficial to both.

Case management is the key to success for our guests and they are only sent to congregations in the Network after being screened by an area social service agency to assure there will be no active drug, alcohol or mental health problems. Guests sent to the Network’s congregations must be willing to work closely with the referring social service agency to resolve the problems leading to their homelessness.

This is a practical, manageable way to serve for both host and support congregations. Congregations host the program for two weeks at a time, usually once, but depending on their schedule twice a year or more. The volunteer and meal support they receive from neighboring congregations is invaluable. Only 12 guests at a time generally stay in the congregation facilities. At the end of two weeks, the whole operation — cots and guests — rotates to another area congregation. Guests can stay up to eight weeks in the Network. The average stay is just under six (6) weeks until the individual or family moves toward independence.

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